israel railways 311POLICE AND RESCUE workers survey the scen.
(photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)
Following an emergency union meeting Sunday night, rail workers threatened to begin striking on Tuesday if no progress in negotiations is made.
Israel Railways on Sunday suspended the chairman of its employee board for three months with a warning for making threats against company executives. The authorities suspended six other workers under similar conditions and fired two others. Employee board chairman Gila Edrei left the room midway through Sunday's hearing to protest the decision.
Speaking to Army Radio on Monday morning, Edrei called the suspensions and firings of transportation workers a provocation. "They took all the rail worker leaders and suspended them. We can't continue this way. In my opinion, [Transportation] Minister [Yisrae] Katz initiated this provocation in order to bring the situation to the point of crisis so that he can create division among the workers," she said.
She added that the "committee heads are elected representatives of the rail workers. If they suspend us, we have a right to strike."
The national rail carrier has been embroiled in an ongoing labor dispute that has led to delays in train arrivals as well as a number of strikes. This weekend train employees announced they would stop checking passengers' tickets indefinitely to protest a previous decision by the company's management to outsource maintenance services to a foreign contractor.
On Monday morning, Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini declared a work dispute, threatening to stage a wider strike for transportation workers. The move will enable workers to strike within two weeks, potentially effecting a work stoppage at Ben Gurion Airport, port authorities, and bus lines Dan and Egged.